You've likely walked past the diminutive adzuki a hundred times in the bin section of your local market. Next time stop, fill a bag, and take a few hundred tiny red pebbles home with you. They're great, nutritional powerhouses, and the stars of a hearty stew-like soup I'm highlighting today. If you've never had them before, they have a sweet, subtly grassy flavor, tender skins, and hold their petite shape beautifully. You cook them just as you would any other dried beans. Paired with butternut squash here you've got sweet on sweet, which is then offset by a good dose of chipotle pepper, cilantro, and proper seasoning.
The recipe is adapted from a soup I discovered in Jae Steele's Get It Ripe cookbook - an inspiring volume I picked up last year in a book store up the street from my house. Jae is a Canadian-based holistic nutritionist, and her cookbook is filled with recipes emphasizing whole, unprocessed ingredients. All 150 recipes are vegan, and she notes special dietary considerations as well - gluten-free, soy-free, etc. It has become harder and harder for me to find cookbooks that highlight the palette of ingredients I'm most interested in exploring, so I was particularly excited when I saw this one. Her cookies, cakes, and brownies often feature spelt or other whole grain flours, and are more often sweetened with maple syrup than granulated sugar. She also includes a few primer sections in the front of the book covering topics ranging from eating local and stocking your whole foods pantry, to digestion basics and micro-nutrient content of certain whole foods. For those of you looking to incorporate more veg-friendly, whole foods into your meals (and baking!) - there are lots of great ideas here.
Adzuki Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
if you like a bit more smoky heat, add more chipotle pepper to taste toward the end. Jae uses 1-2 chopped red bell peppers in place of the tomatoes here. You could certainly use a vegetable stock here in place of the water, but be sure to scale back on the added salt if you go this route - stock can be on the salty side. As with many stews, it's even better the day after, and I've been enjoying it over brown rice as well.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon (dried) coriander
2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle pepper (from can, or rehydrated from dried chile)
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 medium-large onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 - 6 cups water
5 whole canned tomatoes, chopped
4 cups cooked or canned adzuki beans
cilantro drizzle (optional)*
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, coriander, chipotle and salt and saute for a minute or two - until aromatic. Add the onions and saute another 5 minutes or so, until they start to go translucent. Add the garlic and butternut squash, stir well, and then add 5 cups of water. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, and once boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for afew minutes, until the squash begins to soften - 5 - 10 minutes.
Once the squash has softened, use a potato masher and break up the squash pieces a bit. Add the tomatoes, and cook a couple more minutes before adding the beans. Serve drizzled with the cilantro.
Serves about 8.
* I made a quick cilantro drizzle by finely mincing a handful of cilantro. I put it in a jar, and poured just enough olive oil over to cover - plus a couple pinches of salt.
Adapted from Jae Steele's Get It Ripe: A Fresh Take on Vegan Cooking and Living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)